You know how we are about quotes, Buzzkillers. The vast majority of the famous quotes and quips from historical figures have no basis in evidence. Most of them come from hearsay, were actually said by other people, or invented and written by biographers, playwrights, and screenwriters 100 years after the original events or lifetime. Sometimes, it was originally part of a story written long before the person to whom it’s attributed was born. Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France at the time of the 1789 Revolution, is the victim of such a misattributed quote. In fact, it may be the most famous thing “about” her. The story is that she cared very little for the welfare of the common people. When she was told, just [...]
Every July, American Buzzkillers get inundated with chain emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets that spread more myths about the Declaration of Independence. No matter how many times they’ve been disproved, the seem to crop up every year. John Hancock signing his name so large that “King George can read it without his spectacles.” And “The Price They Paid” -- the undying email myth about what happened to the signers of the Declaration. We explain these, and a lot more! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation In this landmark work of history, Joseph Ellis explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals–Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison–confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course [...]
In 1969, a 21-year-old Texas woman named Norma found herself sitting across a restaurant table from two young Dallas attorneys, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington. Norma was more than down on her luck: ward of the state as a child, married and divorced by age sixteen, and hated by her family after coming out as a lesbian. She suffered for years from problems with drinking and drugs. She’d had and lost two children already—the first to her mother, the second a stranger’s adoption. And now she was pregnant with her third. Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, the lawyers, had recently begun advocating for women’s reproductive rights, and they were looking for a plaintiff to help build a case to bring to trial. At this time, [...]
Why did Woodrow Wilson get the rock star treatment in Paris in 1919? He arrived to help negotiate the Treaty of Versailles that was supposed to settle World War I. Did he deserve his rock star reputation? Did he get the treaty approved by the US Congress? How did the treaty finally get approved by the Europeans? What was its long term significance and its historical reputation and interpretations? We discuss all! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which saw new political entities—Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Palestine, among them—born out of the ruins of bankrupt empires, and the borders of [...]
How did World War I end, and what led to the Paris Peace Conference? How did the Conference proceed, how were the various national demands handled? What territorial changes resulted? And was it a purely European Conference? How did it affect other parts of the world? We discuss all these things and more! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which saw new political entities—Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Palestine, among them—born out of the ruins of bankrupt empires, and the borders of the modern world redrawn.
It’s June 12th! Loving Day! Loving Day is being celebrated world-wide. You might think that Loving Day is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but it’s not, it’s today, June 12th. If you don’t know what Loving Day is, let me tell you a story, a love story, in this brief episode. In the 1950s, a 17-year-old young man named Richard fell in love with a neighborhood girl named Mildred. Over the years, they became closer and closer until, in 1958, they married. They were a little uncomfortable getting married at home, so they, essentially, eloped. They went on to have three children, and, all accounts, were completely devoted to each other and remained deeply in love. So, it’s a fairly straight-forward story, probably repeated dozens of [...]
The Trump Administration has announced that the plans to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill will be delayed yet again, and may not appear until 2028. Since the early days of the Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill movement, this show (and the Buzzkill Institute) has been calling for, and supporting other efforts to increase the diversification of images on American currency. And for the last couple of months, a new citizens movement, led by graphic designer Dano Wall, has come up with a stamp to imprint Tubman’s picture on top of Jackson’s portrait on $20 bills. It’s proving quite a hit, and the stamps sell out as quickly as he can make them. The website is tubmanstamp.com, and people have been repurposing [...]
Prof Craig Hammond joins us to discuss the violence used in maintaining slavery, both on the farm/plantation, and in broader society before the Civil War. The violence and terror inflicted on slaves is horrific by our 21st standards. Yet, slave-owners did not consider themselves sadistic torturers. But how did they justify the punishments inflicted on insubordinate slaves, or on slaves suspected of rebellion? PLEASE NOTE: At a few places in this episode, Professor Hammond and I referred to "Robert Byrd," when, in fact, we meant "William Byrd." --- Buzzkill Bookshelf John Craig Hammond and Matthew Mason (editors), Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation The essays collected here analyze the Revolutionary era and the early republic on their own [...]